Mayoral candidates talk policy at forum, seek college votes


The seven candidates for mayor of Lexington participated in a forum hosted by the Lexington League of Women Voters at the Lexington Public Library on Monday, May 7, 2018. Photo by Noah Oldham. 

Noah Oldham

On the evening of Monday, May 7, the Lexington League of Women Voters hosted a forum for Lexington’s seven mayoral candidates at the Lexington Public Library. The candidates each shared how they would address the issues of Lexington’s economy, crime, traffic, education and homelessness. 

During the forum and in interviews afterwards, the candidates spoke about what makes them the best choice for college-aged voters. The candidates have differing ideas about what young adults want from their local government. 

Linda Gorton, who has served as vice mayor and on the Lexington Fayette Urban County Council, said she believes college-aged voters should support her because she shares common interests with them. 

“I need the support of college-aged people because I feel certain they’re concerned about living in a clean, healthy environment with plenty of opportunity,” said Gorton. “That’s my concern, too, and it’s what undergirds my entire platform.” 

Gorton said she would like to see Lexington be a modern, thriving city while preserving the surrounding environment and farms. She said she also hopes to have a welcoming and safe Lexington, which she plans to achieve with a cooperative approach to address the opioid crisis, which she said is a major contributor to crime. Gorton also said she stands for justice and equality and supported the Fairness Ordinance, which protects LGBT individuals from discrimination. Gorton also wants Lexington to offer high-paying jobs and aims to achieve this through a plan of diversified growth, she said. 

Ronnie Bastin, the former Lexington Chief of Police and Public Safety Commissioner, said he wants to address the toughest issues in Lexington and improve the quality of life for everyone.

“As mayor I will listen, and work closely with businesses, universities and the local community to help fuel Lexington’s job creation machine,” said Bastin. “We need to help businesses and our universities connect, to make sure the schools are preparing students for the jobs of the future, with updated technology and information. My goal as mayor is help create a job market that not only retains our college grads but offers good-paying careers in forward-looking industries.”

Bastin said he believes in putting people before politics.  He also supports programs that help prepare formerly incarcerated people reintegrate into society. Bastin said he would be tough on violent crime and would aim to cut off the drug supply through law enforcement.

Ike Lawrence, a Lexington property owner who markets himself as an outsider in the election, said college students should pick him because he wants to get alcohol back on campus. 

“At 18, you can vote and go defend our country,” said Lawrence. “As wild as this idea sounds, if I was mayor I would petition UK and the federal government and Kentucky to not only let beer back on campus but allow you all to drink beer before age 21.” 

Other policies Lawrence discussed during the forum included government cutbacks to alleviate the debt, transforming boarded-up homes into vocational schools and leading from the rear. 

Teresa Isaac, the former mayor of Lexington seeking to reclaim the position, said college students should vote for her because she will talk to them and listen to what they want. 

“When I was mayor, I met regularly with the UK students, Transy students and tried to understand what their needs were as far any jobs that they wanted to see in the community,” said Issac. “There was an entrepreneurs club at UK and I had a radio show and I had them on my radio show to publicize their businesses and I was very open and accessible to students and student concerns.” 

Isaac also shared at the forum that she wants to bring together Lexington’s social, financial and intellectual capital to serve everyone equally. Her goals include focusing on equality and diversity and systematically addressing the issues of crime and drugs in Lexington in all districts. 

Kevin Stinnett, who has served on Lexington Fayette Urban County Council for 14 years, said he is the most prepared candidate to help college students. 

“I’m the most prepared to help them want to stay in Lexington, create an environment that they can get a job, number one,” said Stinnett. “And number two, housing. Number three, quality of life. And that’s the thing most of college students have asked me for. They want that good paying job, but they also want to have fun at night. I’m the most prepared to do that as budget chair of economic development as well. I’ve done it my whole life and I’m ready to do it again for the kids.” 

Stinnett supports “common sense” solutions to complicated issues, he said. He supports Lexington expanding the office on substance abuse, having a rainy-day fund and supporting child mentoring. Stinnett said he wants to support small businesses owners and to address the state to receive funding for infrastructure. He also wants to make city hall more accessible, with better parking and access for people with disabilities, he said. He said he believes his experience does matter and makes him the candidate to get things done. 

William Weyman, a deaf candidate who has not held any political positions, communicated through his interpreter that he if he were mayor he would be willing to meet with and talk to college students. During the forum, he said he would aim to make a safer Lexington. One recurring element of his solutions to Lexington’s problems was supporting casinos to generate revenue. 

Skip Horine was unavailable to comment on why he would be the best candidate for college students. However, his platform focuses mainly on fixing what he believes to be a corrupt police system and support for starting small businesses.

Lexington’s nonpartisan primary election is on Tuesday, May 22. The two candidates with the most votes will go on to compete for mayor in the general election on November 6.